Black History Month

I read a ton of blogs so I can’t remember where I came across a post calling for the end of BHM. Whatever, it’s not even that serious. People who are anti-BHM mostly shun it because they feel it’s (1) divisive, (2) simplistic, and (3) a back-handed compliment of sorts. Let me address these issues.

Divisive. Folks say that BHM is no longer relevant because Black people have come so far. We have Barack Obama in office! No problems, right? They say that by making a point to observe BHM, we’re separating out our history from that of a larger American story and therefore perpetuating any divisions that might already exist. Well I disagree. BHM is not the only month where a group of people take a moment to highlight their accomplishments. There’s Women’s HM, Hispanic/Latino HM, Native American HM, etc. There’s a month for causes like Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence (both in October) and months for foods, like watermelon! Why is it then that only BHM is singled out as being the cause of division in the country?

Simplistic: I can sort of agree with people on this point. BHM is often looked at in a really basic way. Martin Luther King, Jr., Frederick Douglas, Malcolm X, Sojourner Truth and of course, George Washington Carver. The end. Sure, if that’s the way people are going to look at BHM, well then that sucks. However, there ought to be much more to it than that. I majored in African and African-American Studies in college and even I get people who come up to me quizzing me about random Black History facts. Um, there’s more to us than who invented the stoplight. We could be taking this time to reflect on the contributions Black folks have made to this country as well as use BHM as an opportunity to highlight the areas in which the Black community needs to grow. In fact, BHM ought to encompass peoples of the diaspora beyond North America to include people of color all over the world. BHM is only as simple as people make it. Granted, it’s become pretty commercialized, but what hasn’t? Christmas isn’t even safe from all of that.

Back-handed compliment: some folks feel like it’s a slap in the face to have BHM in February. “It’s the shortest month!” Come on, you DO realize that nobody gave us BHM as a consolation prize and purposefully chose February, don’t you? Carter G. Woodson chose February for “Negro History Week” because of Lincoln and Douglass’ birthdays. BHM is celebrated in the United Kingdom too but they do it in October. Would that make people happier or would they complain about BHM being too close to Halloween?

Look, my point is that eliminating BHM is not going to change ANYTHING. It’s not going to make white people more comfortable about racism. It won’t place Black people on equal footing with everyone else. BHM isn’t what’s holding back the community, for sure. I feel the same way about people who want the NAACP to change it’s name. Really? Why?

So what am I going to do this month? Probably just be Black. Maybe get together with some other folks for an event or two while here in JPN where Black folks are few and far between. I think BHM will be more of a big deal in my life when I have children so can yall wait to banish it until after I’m knocked up? Thanks.


Filed under Routine Ramblings

4 responses to “Black History Month

  1. shelly

    “So what am I going to do this month? Probably just be Black. ” lol me too!

  2. Maaaarrrrcuuussssss

    Spike Lee should direct a feature about George Washington Carver, with Ghost Ossie Davis in the titular role.

    GWC (that’s what the kids call him) is the Fat Joe of Black History. Everyone knows his name, yet he’s not very popular. I think he’s emphasized in school because they figure, hey, kids love peanuts!

  3. Folks aren’t truly happy unless they have *something* to complain about, BHM is one of them.

  4. I can kinda feel both sides of the argument, but I do get tired of hearing about the same five people all the damn time.

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